The Court of Appeals’ today rejected Department of Justice’s attempt to stop AT&T acquiring Time Warner, paving the way for AT&T to accelerate the implementation of its plans for WarnerMedia. The company already announced an upcoming streaming platform, which will include HBO Now. I hear WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey and his team also have been mulling a consolidation of the TV networks in one network group.
I hear the group would include all entertainment brands, including HBO, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network. It is unclear whether CNN and WarnerMedia’s streaming service would be part of it though neither is a natural fit, and Stankey just installed a leadership of the direct-to-consumer platform, which includes TNT and TBS boss Kevin Reilly as Chief Creative Officer.
There had been talk about who would run the new network group. HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler has been considered the obvious internal candidate, while former NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt has been the most speculated about external contender. (Greenblatt had been mentioned for a slew of other jobs over the past month or so involving a range of companies, from Lionsgate/Starz and Apple to CBS, in addition to producing deal opportunities.)
We may have seen a glimpse of the potential consolidation recently when Brett Weitz was named General Manager for TNT and TBS after a strong run as head of original programming at TBS where he introduced several well received series, including Full Frontal, Detour and Search Party. Similarly, HBO’s President of Programming Casey Bloys stabilized the premium network, ushering several acclaimed new series, including Big Little Lies, Barry and Westworld.
I hear each network would have its own programming operation run by a creative executive, with other departments, including legal, business affairs, etc. likely to be consolidated.
Stankey recently sent employees a “Strategic Priorities” memo, which touted “maximize efficiencies to enable innovation and investment.” Since then, the company has offered veteran staffers in multiple divisions, including HBO, voluntary buyouts.